Category Archives: Writing

4 Ways to Make Your Copywriting SUPER Persuasive

Good online copywriting does more than just fill up the page, or offer fodder to the search engine algorithms. It also persuades. It encourages the reader to travel further down the sales path, either signing up for an email list, buying a product, or picking up the phone.

Or at least, that’s the way it should happen. We all know that much online copy just doesn’t move the dial; it doesn’t motivate the reader; and it certainly doesn’t improve the bottom line. That’s because it fails to persuade, often because it’s too steeped in tired, clichéd used-car-salesman tactics, or else bogged down in generalities.

So how can you make your copy not only pristine, but persuasive? Here are four steps to take right now.

Cut Meaningless Phrases

Consider this copywriting example: Our company produces world-class products that are bound to delight.

What does world class mean in this sentence? If your copywriting includes words or phrases you can’t readily explain, then it’s just not very good copy.

Specificity should always be your goal. Consider this rewrite:

Our products empower customers to increase their lead generation by 200 percent, representing the highest return on investment of any company in our industry.

Now that means something to your customers—and it’s better copy, because of it.

Use Numbers

Our second tip once again hinges on the idea of specificity. Simply put, using numbers and statistics is almost always more persuasive than speaking in generalities.

So, rather than saying that countless customers love your product, say something like, more than 200 businesses have trusted us with their email marketing needs, and we maintain an average 4.7-star rating among our clients.

Again, the specificity is eye-catching. It’s meaningful. It’s persuasive.

Get to the Point

A good rule of thumb with calls to action: Be direct, and tell your customer what to do next.

Consider these two variants:

If you’re interested in learning more, we encourage you to contact us at your convenience.

Or:

Call us now to start improving your lead generation by as much as 200 percent.

Which is more direct? And, which is more persuasive? The second, we’ll contend, is the option that conveys the most urgency and the most value.

Focus on Value

Your copy isn’t really about you. It’s about your customers, and the benefits they can gain from choosing your product or your brand.

Focusing on those benefits is the best way to persuade. Again, consider two variant CTAs:

Contact us today to learn more!

OR:

Contact us to empower your sales team and start capturing more leads.

Only the second option lays out a reason for your reader to take action—and that makes it by far the more persuasive of the two.

Get Help with Your Copywriting

Good writing should get results. At Grammar Chic, Inc., persuasive writing is our bread and butter. We can help you beef up your sales copy and start increasing your leads and conversions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and start filling your website with compelling sales copy.

Reach Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Content Writing, Web Content, Writing

An Editor Changed Your Work. Now What?

Working with an editor can be a funny thing. Often, a writer will send work to an editor, ostensibly understanding the purpose of the editorial process—that is, to make the work tighter, clearer, better.

But then, once the editor returns the work, the writer is appalled to find that it’s different from what he or she submitted. The editor has made changes to the text! What audacity!

Of course, if the editor didn’t make changes, then there wouldn’t be much point to the editing process at all. Still, seeing your manuscript marked up with red ink can be a little vexing; you obviously have an emotional attachment to your work, and while you want it to be the best it can be, you also want it to hold true to your original vision.

So what should a writer do upon receiving significant changes from an editor? Here are our tips.

Coping with Editorial Changes

First, analyze the changes. Take some time to really go through the revisions and to consider why they were made. You may even need to give yourself a day or two of distance, to get your emotions in check. What you’ll probably find, though, is that the changes were made to render the work clear and concise. Your editor is on the same team, after all, and just wants your writing to shine. Chances are, the changes made don’t alter your original message; most are probably relatively minor things that just make the work that much better.

Choose your battles. With that said, you don’t want to go to war with your editor over every tiny revision made to your manuscript—but if you feel like the changes actually alter the message or spirit of your work, or miss the point of it altogether, that’s when you should push back—gently! Which brings us to…

Be kind! No need to blow your stack and send the editor a nasty email. Instead, be polite and clear in articulating why you’re not comfortable with the changes. Explain your intention with the work, and then how those changes compromise your vision. More likely than not, your editor will be able to work with you to find a good place to meet in the middle.

Remember that an editor’s revisions are suggestions, not prescriptions. It’s still your work, and nobody’s forcing you to accept changes you’re just not comfortable with. You can graciously decline a piece of feedback that you feel misses the point of your work. With that said, if you find yourself declining every suggested change, that may be a sign that you’re not getting the most out of the writer-editor relationship.

Work with a Good Editor

Of course, it goes without saying that working with a qualified and competent editor is key. At Grammar Chic, Inc., our editors are effective at making your words shine—without changing the character of your work altogether. Learn more. Call us for a consultation at 803-831-7444, or reach out through www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Editing, Writing

7 Reasons to Hire a Professional Editor

Good writing and good editing go hand in hand; it’s impossible to imagine one without the other. If you want your writing to shine, then, it’s smart to consider working with a professional editor—and that’s true whether the work in question is a press release for your business or the first draft of that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

But what, specifically, are the benefits of working with an editor? We’ll list just a few of them.

Why Hire an Editor?

  1. An editor will offer you a fresh pair of eyes. The hardest part of editing your own work is that, after staring at the same document for hours, or reading it dozens of times over the span of many days or weeks, you just can’t help but gloss over your own mistakes. A third party will spot the things you miss.
  2. Editors are objective and unbiased. The editor doesn’t have any duty to uphold your feelings or bolster your self-esteem; the editor’s duty is to make the work as good as it can possibly be. The ruthlessness of a good editor can help you put aside vanity and really create the best writing possible.
  3. Editors know how to choose the best words. Good editing isn’t just about avoiding typos. It’s about expressing yourself in the clearest, most effective language possible—something an editor can assist you with.
  4. You can get help on your project at the developmental stage. If you have a piece of writing you’re just not sure about, or need to bounce off someone before you commit too much time to it, you can always enlist an editor to help you vet your ideas and make sure they’ve got real promise.
  5. Editors save you time. You could spend another few days re-evaluating your work, fussing and fretting over it again and again—or you could send it to an editor and then move on to your next project.
  6. Editors save you headaches, too. Editors are a special breed. They don’t mind going over word choices and grammatical constructions with a fine-tooth comb, or evaluating every clause and punctuation mark at the minutest level. That may sound tedious and frustrating to you, so why not get an editor to do it for you?
  7. An editor will help you distill your message. A good editor won’t try to remake your writing in their own image, but rather will help bring your work to its clearest, most effective state. You don’t need to worry about your message getting lost. A good editor will make sure that just the opposite happens.

Hire an Editor

No matter your writing project, a good editor can help you achieve its full potential. Hire an editor today by reaching out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Editing, Writing

How to Work Well with an Editor (And Maybe Even Enjoy It)

Writers know that they need editors to provide an unbiased assessment of their work; to bring precision and focus; and to help shape and mold the writing until it’s as perfect as can be, ready for public consumption.

They know it—but they don’t always like it.

And it’s not hard to understand why. Your writing is personal, and you have every reason to feel proud of it. Having a third party come in and start making changes can feel a little bit like a personal attack, though of course it isn’t.

With that said, you can have a fruitful and enjoyable experience working with an editor—whether on a piece of fiction or on the copy you’ve written for your business website.

Here are some suggestions we’d offer.

Get Along with Your Editor

Remember that your editor is on your side. You and your editor both have the exact same goal in mind: To produce the best piece of written content possible. You may be coming at it from different perspectives, but you ultimately want the same thing—so remember that criticisms you receive aren’t personal attacks. They’re honest attempts to make the work better.

Be open minded. Go into the process assuming that your editor’s suggestions are reasonable and worth considering. That doesn’t mean you have to act on every single one of them. It just means you should let them sit for a while rather than dismissing them out of hand. Even suggestions that initially strike you as ludicrous may reveal themselves to be really smart when you really give them a chance.

Give yourself some time and space. After you receive feedback from an editor, step away from your work for a day or two. Don’t rush to any judgments. Just allow yourself time and distance to make an informed and thoughtful decision.

Don’t fear that you’ll lose control. A good editor isn’t going to rewrite your work. A good editor will offer you guidelines for making it better—but you’ll always be in the driver’s seat, and it will always be your vision. You don’t have to worry that the work’s going to become something else altogether. And if you do have an editor who rewrites everything in his or her own image, well, that’s when it’s time to find a better editor.

Remember that editors are people, too. A good editor will be right much of the time, but not all the time. You probably shouldn’t ignore all your editor’s feedback, but pushing back against an item or two is perfectly reasonable.

Communicate. Ask questions. Get clarification. Try to find out why an editor is making his or her suggestions. Communication is key to any relationship, including the one between writer and editor.

Start a Productive Relationship Today

One more thing: It really is important to find a good, experienced editor. We’d love to talk with you about our own editorial lineup. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to learn more. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Editing, Writing

How Your Blog Can Sell Without Selling

Content marketing is sometimes described as the art of selling without selling. That is, content marketing is meant to facilitate conversions in a way that is decidedly non-salesy; the focus is always supposed to be on providing real value (not hard sales pitches) to the consumer, but doing so in a way that ultimately helps your bottom line.

This is not an easy balance to strike. Take your company blog, for instance. You can probably understand why it’s not a good idea to make each post a straightforward advertisement for one of your products or services: Simply put, it wouldn’t be very engaging, and not many people would read it. On the flipside, if you write blog posts without ever even mentioning your products and services, you may fear that the blog won’t have any practical effect on your sales.

So how can you write company blog posts that sell without coming across as too confrontational, too over-the-top, or too aggressive? We have some tips for you.

Write Blogs That Sell (Without Being Salesy)

Always focus on your audience. The guiding question of each post should be, “What’s in it for my audience?” Write to provide value not just to your brand but to your readers. Make sure your topics and your takeaway points are relevant to the people you’re targeting with your blog.

Give away valuable information. In keeping with the point above, make your blog a place where you give away expertise that your customers can use. Don’t hesitate to give away your “secret weapons” and your tried-and-true practices. This is how you build trust in your own expertise—by being confident enough to give it away.

Don’t write about yourself. Your posts don’t actually need to be about your brand. In fact, to keep them relevant to your readers, it’s probably smarter to write about your industry more broadly, or about the way your trade/profession brings value to consumers.

Don’t mention your brand in every sentence. Your blog can absolutely mention your company name—in fact, we recommend it—but a couple of mentions is probably fine, perhaps in the call to action at the article’s end. Too many mentions of your brand will definitely cause the post to read as “salesy.”

Maintain a conversational tone. Read your blog post out loud, and simply ask yourself: Does it sound like something you’d say in real life? If not, you may want to modify it a bit so that it’s less formal.

Include a CTA. By writing blog posts that earn credibility through giving away free and valuable information, you create the opportunity to end your post with a strong sales pitch—just a sentence or two inviting your reader to contact you for further value.

We Can Help

Writing blogs that are credible, value-adding, and effective is a big part of what we do here at Grammar Chic, Inc. We’d love to handle blogging for your brand. Reach out to us today to learn more: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Writing

5 Ways to Make Your Written Content More SEO-Friendly

Whether you’re writing content for your company website or dashing off the latest company blog post, you want it to be something good—something that offers value to your reader, and reflects well on your brand. At the same time, you want it to be something that’s search engine optimized. After all, great content isn’t very useful if nobody can find it.

This is a little bit of a false dichotomy, perhaps. Generally speaking, writing good, valuable content is the single best way to optimize it, and all the SEO tricks and gimmicks in the world can’t compete with the raw power of quality writing.

With that said, there is certainly a need to ensure that your content is as palatable for search algorithms as it is for human readers, and simply writing a good article is only the first step. As you seek to maximize your content’s SEO potential, here are five simple principles to keep in mind.

Improve Your On-Site SEO

Originality is Imperative

First and foremost, make sure that what you are writing stands on its own. Google doesn’t see any value in duplicate content, and as such it tends to penalize it. Regurgitating the exact same copy for each product page on your website, for instance, or simply copying text from the website to the company blog, will lead to diminished rankings. Take the time to ensure that every piece of content you write is phrased uniquely. Tools like Copyscape can help you ensure that you’re not plagiarizing yourself or others.

Readability Matters, Too

Google’s bots are more likely to favor articles that are readable to wide audiences—and that means using short sentences and paragraphs, limiting your ten-dollar words, and abstaining from the passive voice. Good, concise, punchy content—written in a way that makes it easy to read—will only help you as far as SEO rankings go.

Your Title Should Be Optimized

Writing a catchy headline is key. So is keeping the title to a Google-friendly length of 55-60 characters max. Finally make sure your URL matches the title and contents of the page; a URL that’s just random numbers hampers your SEO efforts.

Be Structured

Your content should have a structure that makes it easy for readers—and search bots—to follow along and get the basic gist of what you’re saying, even just by skimming. The best way to do this is to structure your article with H1, H2, and H3 tags to break up different sections of content. Bullet points and numbered lists can also be helpful, when applicable.

Use Keywords—Judiciously

Though you want to avoid keyword stuffing, and shouldn’t sacrifice quality for keyword count, keywords can certainly be useful in demonstrating what your content is ultimately about. We’ve blogged about the importance of judicious keyword strategy before.

Write Content That Gets Discovered

With the right approach, you can write content that pleases people and search bots alike—no easy feat, but worth it in the long run. Or, you can hire our team to write it for you. Contact Grammar Chic today to ask us about our SEO-friendly content writing services. Reach out at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Business Writing, Web Content, Writing

5 Personal Branding Tips for Freelancers

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There are certain agreed-upon resume standards that apply to almost all 9-to-5 jobseekers—but when you’re a freelancer, some of those rules go out the window, and you’re forced to make some critical decisions about how best to present your different skills to potential clients.

The basic principle is the same: You want to develop a strong personal brand, and to posit yourself as someone who can deliver tremendous value and ultimately achieve the desired results. The question is, how do you accomplish that when your career has consisted more of freelance positions than of regular, salaried employment?

The Grammar Chic resume team can provide guidance to any freelancer looking to craft a strong personal brand. We invite you to call us any time. In the meanwhile, here are a few tips to help you with your branding endeavors.

How Freelancers Can Develop Strong Personal Brands

Rethink Your Resume Structure

Generally speaking, we recommend a chronological format for resumes—but when you’re a freelancer, what you want to emphasize is your array of skills. Sometimes, a more thematically-arranged and functional resume, one designed to show what you can do rather than to mark your career progression, might make more sense.

Include a Strong Executive Summary

It’s critical to have a clear summary of your skills and the value you can bring to an employer—something of an elevator pitch for your personal brand. This should be at the top of your resume!

Make Sure You Have a Portfolio

If at all possible, provide potential employers with a way to see your work. An online portfolio can be a tremendous asset, and if you have one, we recommend linking to it on your resume as well as your LinkedIn profile.

Establish Thought Leadership

Prove that you really know your industry well. Start a blog, or at the very least publish content on social media sites, including LinkedIn. Show any potential employer that you are truly committed to your vertical or niche.

Use LinkedIn to Get Recommendations

The biggest obstacle you’ll face as a freelancer is that employers simply aren’t sure whether they can trust you—so give them every reason to feel confident in your abilities. Work hard to accumulate recommendations, especially on LinkedIn. Be persistent in asking all your colleagues and former clients/employers to leave you a glowing notice.

Get Help with Your Personal Branding

All jobseekers need to brand themselves, but it’s especially challenging when you work as a freelancer. Grammar Chic can help you hone your resume and optimize your LinkedIn profile. Contact us today to get started: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Brand Management, Content Marketing, Writing

How to Overcome Writer’s Block (And Generate Better Blog Topics)

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Content marketing requires constant engagement. It’s like a beast that must continually be fed. You can’t slack off, or take a month off from content creation; there are always new blog posts to be written, new social media updates to share, new emails to send. If you stop moving—if you stop hustling—your audience will shrink and your efforts will come up short.

This can obviously lead to some obstacles. Take blogging as an example. When you’re tasked with developing new, unique, creative blog posts every single day, it can be draining. You may find yourself developing a case of writer’s block, even as you also realize that you don’t have that luxury. You’ve got to keep writing—but how can you come up with a fresh topic to write about, without simply plundering and repurposing older ideas?

There are some simple habits that can prove effective in pumping those creative juices, and providing you with the fresh insights and ideas you need.

Have Regular Brainstorming Sessions

You may be the person who is tasked with writing the company blog posts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some help sparking your creativity. Meet with team members once a month or so and ask them for their thoughts. What are some of the questions that customers have been asking them? What are some of the topics they’ve detected interest in? How do they see the blog being improved, made more useful and informative? These brainstorming sessions can generate new perspectives you may not have thought of otherwise.

Look Through Your Customer Correspondence

Make a habit of regularly reading your recent customer emails or social messages, and take note of the questions or concerns that people are bringing up. Those are things people want to hear more about. Those are the pain points. And those can make for really timely and relevant blog posts.

Consider Your Hobbies

We’ve written articles comparing content marketing to The Walking Dead and to Mad Men—because we happen to really like those shows. Are there activities or passions in your personal life that you could translate into blog posts? Think about the things you care most about, outside of the office, and ask yourself how these things intersect with your professional life.

Subscribe to Other Industry Blogs

This one is simple: When you see another industry blog that you admire, bookmark it, or subscribe to the RSS feed. Make a habit of at least skimming through these posts from your competitors, and using them as potential launch pads for your own posts. (Obviously, you need to make sure you’re putting your own spin on things, not pilfering posts wholesale.)

These are all basic habits you can form that will keep your good-idea machine hoppin’. If you need an extra hand, though, we’re always around. Contact Grammar Chic’s ghostwriters at 803-831-7444 or at www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Writing

Make Your Email Marketing a Summer Success

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Here’s a phenomenon you may have noticed: During the grueling hot months of summer, you’re much more likely to get out-of-office auto-responders from the people you try to reach by e-mail. It’s not that everyone’s avoiding you. It’s just that everyone’s on vacation—or so it seems, sometimes. Certainly, the summer season is touch-and-go when it comes to emails, which may tempt you to pack in your email marketing campaign for the summer, perhaps revisiting the ol’ email list when September rolls around.

That’s not an illegitimate temptation, nor is it necessarily a wrong one: Certainly, there is an argument to be made for scaling back on your marketing emails during the summer months, if not disbanding them completely.

No matter how many marketing emails you send over the next couple of months, though—just one or a baker’s dozen—we encourage you to implement some simple tweaks to your strategy, which can make those emails much more enticing to your recipients—and thus, likely to get opened and acted upon.

Get Your Marketing Emails Ready for Summer

Keep those subject lines succinct. A lot of your readers may be getting those emails while they’re waiting in line for movie tickets, a plane ride, or a trip down a roller coaster. They don’t have time for epic-length headings. Shoot for subject lines between 30 and 50 characters—never any more.

Cozy up to emojis! Summer time is fun time, right? There’s no better season to adorn your subject lines and your email messages with a few tasteful smiley faces or other festive icons. Don’t go overboard, and don’t sacrifice actual words for emojis, but do feel free to use them as they fit.

Resist the temptation toward click bait. Drop two swimsuit sizes in a week’s time may seem like a tempting promise, and if your product can actually deliver it, then good for you! Don’t fall into the trap of making cheap promises that you know you can’t keep, though, nor of writing subject headings that aren’t actually relevant to your content. You may get click-throughs, but you’ll also get a lot of annoyed customers.

Don’t let your emails fall into the junk pile. Nobody has a lot of time to sort through their junk folder, so avoid letting your emails end up there. Cut down on spam triggers, as we talked about in this previous post.

Need some further assistance getting your marketing emails summer-ready? We can help you strategize, write, format, and send. Reach out to Grammar Chic today at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Business Writing, Email Writing, Writing

Facebook is Changing its Algorithms. Here’s How Brands Can Adapt.

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In the coming days, Facebook will be making some not-insignificant tweaks to its newsfeed algorithms—prioritizing posts from friends and family members but reducing the visibility of branded posts. In other words, when you sign into your personal Facebook account, the first posts you see will be ones from the people you know and love. Posts from the businesses or public figures you follow will be second-tier.

For the consumer, this is probably welcome news. In fact, Facebook has said the entire impetus for this change is that so many users have complained about being inundated by branded content while missing out on the key updates from their friends and family members. For small business owners, though, this news isn’t welcome. What it means is that branded posts will be less visible on Facebook, and thus, Facebook referral traffic will likely take a dive.

Crafting Posts to Be Shared

So what’s the solution? Given how critical Facebook is to the marketing landscape, it can’t very well be abandoned. The good news is that there’s a way for companies to work around this algorithmic upheaval. Essentially, the way to get branded content into consumer newsfeeds is to have it shared by friends and family members. Engineering this kind of social connection can provide kind of a back door into more and more Facebook feeds.

In other words, we’re back to that timeless Facebook marketing question: What can you do to get your posts shared by as many people as possible? We’ve got a few tips and techniques—some of them tried and true, some a bit off the beaten path, but all Grammar Chic-tested and Facebook-approved.

Keep the narrative brief. Nobody wants to read an entire book just to get to the point of your Facebook post. Aim for text of no more than 80 characters or so, if you can help it.

Select a compelling image. Pictures are what get Facebook shares—period. Colorful, eye-catching images that provoke humor or sentiment are always going to be winners.

Avoid first-person as best you can. Make your post feel like it could come from anyone, to encourage people to share your thoughts. Keep your text to some brief, open-ended questions or short declarations.

Include a call to action where appropriate. Something as simple as “visit our blog for more” can be perfectly compelling.

Share content that’s actionable and advice-oriented. Make sure the blog posts you write and share have headlines that convey immediate, practical value for the reader.

Need some help crafting posts that’ll slide easily into Facebook’s new algorithms? Give Grammar Chic a call. Reach us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Content Writing, Social Media, Writing